Bollinger moves its executives into key positions at newly acquired Mississippi operations
Bollinger Shipyards, the Lockport-based shipbuilder, has put several of its own executives in charge of running the loss-making Halter Marine operations in Mississippi, which it bought earlier this month from Halter's Singapore-based parent.
Chris Remont, head of new construction at Bollinger in Lockport, will be the new chief of VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, which has been renamed Bollinger Mississippi Shipbuilding. Remont replaces Bob Merchant, who was hired as VT Halter Marine's CEO in summer 2021 after a long career at Ingalls Shipbuilding.
Merchant has been moved to a new role as head of operational strategy and integration for the larger Bollinger company and its 14 facilities across Louisiana and Mississippi. The job will include reviewing the company's performance and looking for ways to improve efficiency.
Tim Martinez, head of Bollinger's repair operations, will now also be in charge of the ST Engineering Halter Marine and Offshore unit, which has been renamed Bollinger Mississippi Repair. Jeffrey Gehrmann, who had been head of Halter Marine repair operations, is now named the general manager of repair in Mississippi.
"I’m confident that we have the people, skills, capability and dedication to meet the needs of our customers, no matter how big or complex, and provide them with the highest levels of quality, support and service in our industry," said Ben Bordelon, CEO of Bollinger Shipyards, in a statement announcing the changes.
Turning Mississippi around
Halter Marine had been racking up losses in recent years, mainly due to a history of under-bidding for shipbuilding contracts that it could not deliver on time and on budget. When he took over, Merchant was the company's third CEO in four years.
When it sold the business, parent company ST Engineering said that the Halter Marine operations had cumulative losses of $256 million over the five years through 2021.
As well as VT Halter Marine, Bollinger also acquired ST Engineering Halter Marine and Offshore in Pascagoula. The two units cost $15 million, with the possibility that Bollinger will pay an additional $10.25 million if certain contract targets are met.
With the acquisition, Bollinger acquired the Coast Guard's coveted Polar Security Cutter contract, which it had lost to Halter Marine three years ago. It is potentially the largest in Bollinger's history, with the first vessel at $746 million, rising above $2 billion if options for another two are exercised. Though delivery of the first has already been delayed a year to 2025, Bollinger is hoping to get it back on track.